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Lake Front Property

Lake front property can easily be rented when not in use.

Lake front real estate offers picturesque views. [©Jupiter Images, 2010]
©Jupiter Images, 2010
Lake front real estate offers picturesque views.

Lake Front Property

The Great Lakes are home to some of America's finest lake front property homes. Properties range from traditional homes, to vacation homes to high-rise condos. While the market has cooled during the economic downturn of 2008-2009, there are many good buys to be had. Some real estate agents assert that there has never been a better time to invest in lake front property along the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes Region

The Great Lakes include Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that these lakes collectively represent the largest freshwater system on Earth. Currently, the Great Lakes basin is home to more than 30 million residents. Many of these residents live in the large cities that sit on the shores of the Great Lakes, including Chicago, Milwaukee and Cleveland. Some residents of the area are seasonal, enjoying the warmer months on the shores of the Great Lakes.

North Shore Communities Chicago

The North Shore region, located just to the north of the city of Chicago, is home to several affluent lakefront communities, including Winnetka, Wilmette, Glencoe, Highland Park, Lake Forest and Kenilworth.

According to Yahoo Real Estate, median housing values in these cities vary from a low of $629,000 in Wilmette to a high of $1,580,000 in Kenilworth. All of the mentioned North Shore Communities have witnessed significant drops in the last year, consistent with other parts of the country. It was reported by the North Shore Insider that in October of 2008, the North Shore communities suffered one of its worst months ever, with sales of condos and single-family residences at a significantly lower pace and price. Average sale prices in the region fell to $703,523 from $880,401 in the previous year. This drop was primarily attributed to the decreased demand for high-end homes; however, greater drops in property values have been seen in the condo market. In October 2008, the condo sales market witnessed a 24 percent drop from the previous year. Given the steep drop in housing values, homes on the North Shore may be reaching bargain prices.

Milwaukee Suburbs

The North Shore of Milwaukee is considered to be an affluent area, including communities, such as Bayside, Brown Deer, River Hills, Fox Point, Shorewood, Whitefish Bay and Glendale. While not inexpensive, homes in this suburban area are more accessible than homes in the North Shore region of Chicago. A five-bedroom home may be listed at about $600,000 in Whitefish Bay, with a four-bedroom home in Brown Deer running about $258,000. The Village of Bayside, which is approximately 10 miles from downtown Milwaukee, is a community that sits just to the north of Milwaukee. Residents here enjoy a higher median household income than most people in the region. The estimated median value of a home in 2007 was $382,377, according to City-Data.com. Bayside is officially considered to be one of Milwaukee's North Shore communities.

Lake Erie Communities

There are several suburban Cleveland communities that sit on the shores of Lake Erie. The City of Bay Village, which is located approximately 15 miles to the west of the City of Cleveland, is home to approximately 17,000 residents. The city is home to highly educated and professional homeowners. Homes in Bay Village can be as expensive as $2 million for lakefront estates; however, there are more reasonable properties, which run about $200,000 for a three-bedroom home. The City of Lakewood, Ohio, also sits on the shores of Lake Erie, approximately 10 minutes west of downtown Cleveland. The area is plentiful with homes and condominiums. The area is prime for investment with more than 1,000 registered businesses. The homes in Lakewood cost about the same as homes in the community of Bay Village. The area boasts many condominium communities with prime views of the lake.

Upper Peninsula Michigan

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan offers several waterfront communities, which sit on Lakes Superior and Huron. The City of St. Ignace is often referred to as the Gateway to the Upper Peninsula. The St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce describes St. Ignace as a city that marks the meeting point between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. The city is also home to recreational activities, dining and museum attractions. Homes in this area are not inexpensive. A typical three bedroom home can cost anywhere from $395,000 to $450,000.

Mackinac Island, located between Michigan's main land and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, is thought to be a lovely location. Mackinac Island has a distinct 19th century feel to it. There are no cars available; rather, people travel by bicycle or horse drawn carriage. Homes also behold the 19th century feel, with their Victorian styling. Since more than 80 percent of Mackinac Island is owned by the public, there is not much room for private ownership or development. Consequently, the properties that are available come at a premium. Currently, the median home price is $445,000, according to Yahoo Real Estate; however, it is not necessary to spend that much to own a piece of Mackinac. One option is to purchase a condo. While not in use, condos on Mackinac can be rented and provide regular income. The Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau provides detailed information about all activities and events on the island.

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